No products in the cart.

How to Use Positive Psychology to Treat Post-Stroke Depression

More than 40% of stroke survivors deal with post-stroke depression.

And with over 795,000 people experiencing strokes every year in the US, that means there is a staggering number of people with post-stroke depression.

While many doctors treat depression with medication, there’s a natural approach called positive psychology that may also help.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the different causes of post-stroke depression.

The Main Causes of Post-Stroke Depression

The cause of post-stroke depression varies from person to person, and it can include one or more of the following:

1. Changes to the Brain

Stroke can cause depression through biological changes to the brain. For instance, if stroke causes damage to the frontal lobes – which help regulate emotion, decision-making, and judgment – then post-stroke depression can occur.

2. Thought Patterns

A shift in judgment can cause a stroke survivor to move from thoughts like ‘this situation sucks but at least I’m okay’ to ‘this situation sucks and I will never get back to my old self.’ This shift in judgment can create a slippery slope that slides into depression.

3. Lifestyle and Abilities

Stroke often takes away hobbies and abilities from a patient that may have once been beloved (although not always permanently). Whether this is temporary or permanent, these changes may trigger grief, and depression is one of the stages of grief after stroke.

4. Changes in the Way Others Treat You

Perhaps the most frustrating and hurtful implication of disability is a negative shift in the way others treat you. Since humans are social creatures who crave connection, a negative shift in interpersonal connections can trigger depression.

While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for post-stroke depression, the rest of this article will look into the possibility of using positive psychology to cope.

Treating Post Stroke Depression

There’s one thing that all the causes of post-stroke depression have in common: changes in the brain.

While some changes occur from the biological impact of stroke, others occur because of drastic change in lifestyle after stroke. For many survivors, it feels like life gets turned upside down.

To help you feel better again, the emerging field of positive psychology offers promising practices that can help.

Using Positive Psychology to Reduce Post Stroke Depression

unique treatment for post stroke depression

Positive psychology is the study of creating positive feelings like gratitude, compassion, and happiness.

While it may sound soft and fluffy, the field is grounded in hard science.

A popular book on positive psychology called Hardwiring Happiness talks about how to use neuroplasticity to rewire your brain for happiness.

We talk about neuroplasticity A LOT here on our recovery blog, so you can see how positive psychology naturally fits into recovery.

And in case you’re new here, the basic premise of neuroplasticity is that your brain becomes better at what you repeatedly practice.

So by focusing on the good, you begin to notice more good in your life – even when things seem otherwise.

Here’s an exercise that demonstrates the power of positive psychology and how it may help reduce post-stroke depression:

Exercise: Rewiring Your Emotional Brain

rewiring the brain to treat post stroke depression

Did you know that you can rewire your brain by writing in a gratitude journal daily?

Try to write down 10 things you’re grateful for every day.

This will train your brain to be on the lookout for things to be grateful for – even when you’re not trying. Repetition is the mother of all skill.

Cultivating a natural disposition of gratitude is a great step towards feeling better.

People with post-stroke depression often cannot drastically pivot their thought patterns by “thinking happy thoughts” if they don’t believe the thoughts.

This would start a negative feedback loop where you’re saying one thing but thinking another, and you’ll get nowhere.

Cultivating gratitude is more accessible and paves the way to better emotions.

The Book on Emotional Healing After Stroke

If you struggle with feeling better after stroke, then you’ll enjoy our book Healing & Happiness After Stroke.

It was written specifically for stroke survivors who want extra support with the emotional side of recovery. We hope you enjoy it.

Keep It Going: Download Our Stroke Recovery Ebook for Free

stroke recovery tips ebooks with fanned pages (1)

Get our free stroke recovery ebook by signing up below! It contains 15 tips every stroke survivor and caregiver must know.

You’ll also receive our weekly Monday newsletter that contains 5 articles on stroke recovery.

We will never sell your email address, and we never spam. That we promise.

Get Inspired with This Stroke Survivor Story

5 stars

Mom gets better every day!

“When my 84-year-old Mom had a stoke on May 2, the right side of her body was rendered useless. In the past six months, she has been blessed with a supportive medical team, therapy team, and family team that has worked together to gain remarkable results.

While she still struggles with her right side, she can walk (with assistance) and is beginning to get her right arm and hand more functional. We invested in the FitMi + MusicGlove + Tablet bundle for her at the beginning of August.

She lights up when we bring it out and enjoys using it for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. While she still doesn’t have enough strength to perform some of the exercises, she rocks the ones she can do!

Thanks for creating such powerful tools to help those of us caring for stroke patients. What you do really matters!”

David M. Holt’s review of FitMi home therapy

More Ways to Recover with Flint Rehab:

Download Free Stroke Rehab Exercises

cover and pages from stroke rehab exercise ebook by Flint Rehab

Keep Reading by Category

Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

More Ways to Recover with Flint Rehab:

Step 1: Download Free Rehab Exercises

stroke exercise ebook

Step 2: Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

Step 3: See What Other Survivors Are Saying